Inauguration of Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria was held in Sofia
A ceremony to inaugurate the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) has been held in Sofia, Bulgaria, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting AzerTac.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the event. President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev welcomed President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and other heads of state and government. The event featured the screening of a video on technical indicators of the interconnector and the importance of the project. The screening was followed by speeches.
Speaking about the project, Caretaker Prime Minister of Bulgaria Galab Donev noted that the launch of the interconnector is of great importance for the partner countries.
“Bulgaria welcomes the EU-Azerbaijan memorandum of understanding of strategic energy partnership and the possibility of increasing natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan. This will contribute to the diversification objectives in the Repower Europe plan.”
Executive officer of the ICGB AD, Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, Teodora Georgieva said:
“This is the first project in Bulgaria that brings real diversification of sources and leads to energy independence, the 1st fully automated gas pipeline in the country to build it.
I would also like to emphasize the importance of the support of our partners and friends from Azerbaijan. Today they are here once again with the high-level participation of President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijani gas volumes to Bulgaria provide the backbone of the project and fill a third of its pipeline capacity with potential for additional volumes.”
Another Executive Officer of the ICGB AD Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, George Satlas said:
“We honestly believed that five years ago this project will become the reality that it is today. Together, all involved parties united under a common goal, a paradigm on the strength of unity.”
In her remarks, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said:
“I would say today a new era for Bulgaria and South East Europe begins.
Thanks to projects like this Europe will have enough gas for the winter.”
The head of state made a speech at the ceremony.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
Thank you very much for this introduction. Dear President of Bulgaria Radev, dear President of the European Commission, Madam Ursula Von Der Leyen, Dear Presidents, Prime Ministers, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to express gratitude to President Radev for inviting me to attend this historical ceremony. The IGB project will play an important role in strengthening the energy security of Europe and the diversification of gas supplies. Energy security is part of the national security of every country and the current geopolitical situation in the world proves it once again.
For almost two years, Azerbaijani gas is on the European market and is now in Bulgaria. The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the continent, which changed the energy map of Europe. Azerbaijan is proud to be the initiator of the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor transports gas to consumers by a new route, but also from a new source. So far, the only source is the Shah Daniz gas field situated in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, but several other new gas fields of Azerbaijan will start production soon and will contribute to increasing the volumes of our supply.
Azerbaijan is, for many years, a reliable oil supplier to international, primarily European markets, and now became a reliable gas supplier. Also, I would like to comment on what Madam President said about renewables. This is also part of our strategic partnership Memorandum of Understanding on energy which was signed this July between the European Commission and Azerbaijan.
So, soon I am sure Azerbaijan will become a reliable electricity supplier to Europe and the proven reserves of our wind potential only in the Caspian Sea is 157 gigawatt and now we are already discussing with our European partners how to bring this energy to the European continent.
Last year, our gas export was around 19 billion cubic meters, out of which 8.2 billion to Europe, and that was an increase of 40% in comparison with the previous year. This year, we will increase our export up to more than 22 billion cubic meters and 11.5 billion cubic meters will go to European consumers. As I already said, this July we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the European Commission during the visit of Madam Ursula von der Leyen to Azerbaijan, which is a very substantial document. Based on that by 2027 we are planning to increase, to double our supply of natural gas to Europe, at least to double, and we have all the potential to do it.
We started already consultations with our partners with respect to the expansion of TANAP from 16 to 32 billion cubic meters and TAP from 10 to 20 billion cubic meters, because without that it will be difficult to provide additional supplies.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the people of Bulgaria, the people of Greece and all of us with this historical event, the completion of this important project and wish IGB a long and successful life.
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Describing the commissioning of the Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector as a special event not only for the parties involved in the project but also for the whole of Europe, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis said:
“As President Aliyev has said, Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Bulgaria through this pipeline. Of course, this will contribute to the development of the natural gas network together with other infrastructure projects being implemented in the region.”
Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă said that all opportunities should be used to diversify gas supplies. This project will also contribute to improving supplies.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in his speech:
“I congratulate our Bulgarian and Greek friends on the successful completion of this interconnector. The project is also important for Serbia. I must say that without the presence of our friend Ilham Aliyev, it would not be easy for any of us to hope for the diversification of gas and electricity supplies. Dear friend, I see that you are very popular in Europe now. I want to keep in touch with you. We have talked many times. He has become very popular in Europe. In the meantime, I don’t know what he did, but I have to admit that I would like to know this secret too.”
President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski also stated that the project was of tremendous importance not only for host countries but also for Southeast Europe as a whole.
“Speaking of the most popular person in Europe, the President of Azerbaijan, we do not know his new number. He may have changed his phone number.”
Concluding the ceremony, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev emphasized that the Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector has already significantly changed the energy map of Europe. The President said:
“Finally, we have real gas flow from Azerbaijan, which in the face of President Ilham Aliyev proved to be a reliable partner keeping to the agreement with President Parvanov more than a decade ago. Yesterday I received a very important proposal. In fact I was authorized by the gas transmission companies and providers of four countries – Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. And they ask me to propose to submit to the President of the European Commission jointly signed letter and they propose to transmit the additional quantities of gas from Azerbaijan along with the agreement between the President of European Commission and President Ilham Aliyev signed in July.”
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Following the speeches, the photos were taken.
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The total length of the Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector (IGB) is 182 kilometers and it connects the gas transmission networks of Bulgaria and Greece.
The project is being implemented by the Bulgarian-Greek investment company “ICGB AD”, registered in Bulgaria in 2011, together with the shareholders of Energy Holding of Bulgaria and IGI Poseidon of Greece, each of which has a 50 percent stake.
The total cost of the interconnector is more than 240 million euros. In 2010, the European Commission allocated a grant of 45 million euros for feasibility studies and another payment of 35 million euros within the framework of the program being implemented by Bulgaria. The European Investment Bank provided a loan of 110 million euros.
IGB will deliver natural gas produced from Azerbaijan’s “Shah Deniz-2” field to Bulgaria. For this purpose, Bulgarian state company “Bulgargaz EAD” has signed an agreement with the “Shah Daniz” consortium. The annual throughput capacity of the pipeline will be 3 billion cubic meters. In the future, this indicator can be increased to 5 billion cubic meters per year. Thus, Azerbaijan’s natural gas will meet 25-30 percent of Bulgaria’s demand.
The transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe began at the end of 2020 following the commissioning of the last segment of the Southern Gas Corridor, the TAP pipeline. Currently, Turkiye, Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Italy are buyers of Azerbaijani gas. As is evident, the demand for Azerbaijani gas is increasing in the face of new challenges.